Force of Nature: The Unlikely Story of Wal-Mart's Green Revolution

Whether we like the retail behemoth or not, Wal-Mart is taking major steps towards a green future that may transform the way businesses are run, and even help save the human race. Pulitzer Prize winner Edward Humes’ latest book, Force of Nature: The Unlikely Story of Wal-Mart’s Green Revolution, dives into the corporation’s green face-lift that has made them a legitimate driver in the sustainable revolution. If that sounds impossible, ask yourself “what if?” Could it really happen? Here are five of Wal-Mart’s simplest earth-and-cash-saving moves easy enough for anyone. Before you call it greenwashing, are you doing all of these at home too?

1. Energy: When small businesses followed Wal-Mart’s energy-saving tactics, they reduced energy bills by 20 to 60 percent, and you can too: Opt for energy-efficient light bulbs and using natural light, planting shade trees to reduce cooling costs, insulate attics to reduce heating costs, paint flat roofs white, clean filters in cooling and heating devices and in the fridge to save money and reduce carbon emissions.

2. Waste Less: California Wal-Marts cut their waste by 81 percent! Wal-Mart makes $100 million simply by decreasing how much it sends to landfills each year. Recycling electronics, paper, cans, plastics, switching to reusable water bottles, shifting away from single serve packaged foods, composting your vegetable matter, and donating anything someone else may benefit from will save you money and decrease waste. 

3. Think Healthy: Wal-Mart highlights the health benefits in their organic food which is free of pesticides and chemicals (especially harmful to young children) and gentler on the earth. You can green your daily routine by adopting healthy habits like walking more, supporting local farmers’ markets, buying in bulk and avoiding toxins found in toys and household cleaners.

4. Start Small: The path to green is all about the journey. Wal-Mart started by reducing the packaging on a single toy, which saved a forest and $2.5 million. For you, maybe that means switching out light bulbs, or washing laundry in cold water and line drying your clothes outside.

5. Child is the Father of Man: The saying is so true—kids teach us, and you may be surprised to learn that Wal-Mart not only adopts green choices to save money, but also because today’s youth care about the planet. Chances are kids are learning about health and sustainability in school, so gardening, composting or gathering recyclables instead of watching TV or playing video games can save you money, keep your kids healthy and improve the health of our planet.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Photo: Harper Collins